Knowing his wins and place, Prado ready to show horsemen his ability 30-1 Hot Wells resembles jockey's past mounts in Triple Crown outsider; 123rd PREAKNESS


He wears No. 536 on his helmet, testimony to the number of winners that carried him to a national riding championship last year.

Mid-Atlantic trainers seek his services zealously and his agent, Steve Rushing, often has his choice of several mounts in a particular race.

But Edgar Prado's fourth Preakness ride, aboard Hot Wells tomorrow, is not likely to lead to a rash of appearances in future Triple Crown races.

Strictly business, you understand.

"More exposure is good," Prado said of his Preakness appearance. "A lot of horses coming from out of town are looking for a rider in this race and the people ask who is who.

"But as far as other big races, why go out of town to ride a 40-1 shot with little chance to win when there are 10 horses here that day?"

Big-time trainers are not exactly beating at Rushing's door to acquire Prado's talents.

"You hope some day that will happen," the agent said. "It's not for me to say. But right now we're not getting a lot of offers.

"And it doesn't make much sense to take off nine or 10 horses here to go somewhere and ride a long long shot. Every week he could do that somewhere."

Prado, who will be 31 on June 12, had a short-lived, unsuccessful fling in the big time on the New York circuit in 1994 but quickly returned to Maryland.

His ride on Hot Wells was made because the horse is owned by Baltimorean Mike Lasky, whom Prado has worked for here with trainer John DiNatale.

"Edgar's the big gun here and knows this track like the back of his hand," said Hot Wells' trainer, Tom Amoss, who has used Tim Doocy, Calvin Borel and Robby Albarado, among others, on the horse.

Rushing said there were plans afoot to put Prado on Hot Wells for the Arkansas Derby, where he finished fourth, but "things didn't work out down there. So, it was decided if he went in the Preakness, Edgar would be up.

"We've had opportunities to go to the [Kentucky] Derby before, but there hasn't been anything real interesting."

Prado has the same problem in the Preakness -- riding a horse that is a distinct outsider.

Of his previous mounts -- My Luck Runs North in 1993, Rockamundo in 1994 and Mixed Count in 1996 -- none has finished better than seventh.

"This looks like his best chance," Rushing said. "This horse was only beaten by three lengths by Victory Gallop [in Arkansas] and he had some trouble."

Prado has more than 3,000 career victories and entering this week, was making a good defense of his 1997 title with 149 wins, five behind last year's runner-up, Russell Baze.

Pub Date: 5/15/98

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